Dinner Dates : Dinner for 8

It's almost Summer!!

But not quite, so there's still time to squeeze a couple more Winter Dinner Dates in. And this weekend was windy, rainy & yukky so it was totally appropriate to have a good feast & catch up around the fire.

I was planning on making this one a Murder Mystery theme, but time ran away with me as we rocket through Sept, so we just kept it simple - good food & good company. ( The Murder Mystery does look like fun though, so we'll keep that for another occasion)

The Menu

* Butternut Risotto with cumin seed cheese puff straws

* Braised Brisket with Bourbon/Apricot glaze with Green Beans,  broccoli & toasted almonds, Yorkshire Puds, Dill flavoured Pap & Sauteed whole baby carrots

* Brownie Pizza

Ok it sounds a bit of a production, and it was, from a timing & planning perspective (having limited pots & oven space). But for shopping & price-wise, it was really easy & cheap - bonus!
Photos are consequently a little limited too - keeping serving dishes warm & plating up for 8 was tricky!

Buternut Risotto Starter

I used my tried & tested recipe here.

And to accompany it, I took a roll of bought puff pastry, sprinkled it with cumin seeds, Maldon salt & a sprinkling of cheese, and then cut them in to strips, gave them a twist & popped them in the oven on a greased baking sheet for about 15 mins. A really yummy alternative to regular fresh bread & the variations possible are unlimited : chilli & parmasan, a sprinkling of paprika, herbs or sesame seeds would all work.


When we were in Churchaven a coupe of weeks ago, friends of ours cooked the most delicious brisket. The recipe instructs an overnight marinate & then it's slow cooked for about 5 hrs. Which seems like a lot of time & admin but it's definitely worth putting in the effort in the preparation & patience in cooking so that the meat is truly enveloped in the flavours & tendorised to the point of melting in your mouth.
The shopping list looks hefty but we actually had most of the stuff already.

Braised Brisket with Bourbon-Peach Glaze Rub:
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2kg trimmed flat-cut brisket with about 1/3" top layer of fat
2 tablespoons oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, smashed
4 cups beef broth
1 12-ounce bottle stout
3/4 cup bourbon (we used Jack Daniels)
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
6 large sprigs thyme
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 plum tomatoes, cored, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup peach jam or preserves ( we used apricot jam)
2 teaspoons bourbon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

We ordered our meat from Frankie Fenner. Brisket is such an economical cut of beef that it makes it a great choice for a dinner party. With a bit of time & prep this cheap cut goes from zero to hero.

Steamed green beans & broccoli were tossed in a little butter & lemon juice & finished with a sprinkling of toasted almonds & a glug of yummy olive oil.
The whole baby carrots were sauted in a pan with orange juice, sugar, thyme & butter and a pinch of chilli flakes. (We ran out of honey so I used sugar, but honey would have been much better to balance the orange flavour)

Yorkshire Puds:
I cup flour
1 cup milk
1 egg

All mixed together & poured in to a pre-heated & oiled muffin tray for about 30 mins

Dill flavoured Pap
1 cup of Mielie-Meal
1 litre water
Cream & butter to taste
Handful of fresh Dill

This was a 1st for me a couple of weeks ago. I always imagined this staple South African porridge to be really bland & lumpy, but it's amazing what a bit of cream, butter & lots of fresh chopped dill can do a dish. It truly transforms the maize meal in to a creamy herby delight (it's worth making a lot to guarantee some leftovers for the next day!)

Brownie Pizza
1 pack of pre-mix Brownie mixture
1 cup of milk
Fruit/ chocolate to decorate

This dessert was super easy, really economical & fun to make. My friend Sallyanne tested it out last week & said it was a winner! You literally mix the brownie mixture with milk as per the instructions & cook in the oven for about 15 minutes. That's the pizza base. Then I melted a Bar One with a little cream to make a caramel layer on top & then decorated with sliced strawberries, banana & blueberries which I then sealed with a little jelly to keep the fruit fresh & glossy. In hindsight, I'm not sure I'm the biggest fan of combining chocolate with fruit, so next time might do a pure, naughty, choccie version using chuckles or smarties & marshmallows.

I love these place mats - we used them for Christmas & are a fun way to decorate the table.

Then I made some quick little paper garlands as party favours for the girls as a leetle s'thg to take home as a thank you for joining us.

apple TV Kings of Leon
Lulu Rouge
Mumford & Sons

Yummo, scrummo

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